Sunday, April 26, 2009

Say No To Flab: Fitness And Disability

For people living with disabilities there are unique risks for weight gain. This doesn't mean that someone with a disability is more likely to battle obesity, but people with disabilities need to take additional issues into account when working to maintain a healthy weight. The unique risks for weight gain that people with disabilities face include the possibility of burning fewer calories due to reduced mobility and exercise, a slower metabolism due to medical issues or their treatment, eating out of boredom or depression, or relying on others who may not be knowledgeable about nutrition for grocery shopping and meal preparation.

Of course, advice about maintaining a healthy weight always seems easier in theory than practice: eat well and exercise. But how do you figure out what type of food choices and exercise plan is best for you? Not only do you have to navigate all the fads out there, but you need to find a plan that is actually acceptable enough to you that you're willing to stick with it. First, follow common sense. Don't overeat. To help you in this, be sure to drink plenty of water. Thirst can often feel like hunger to folks in the developed world who aren't used to understanding the true value of water intake. Staying hydrated can help you keep your portions to healthy sizes.

Remember that anything in excess has the potential to be bad. You don't need to ban all carbohydrates and fat from your diet. But you do need to eat lean meats and enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, don't rule out dessert entirely: diets that are about denial are hard to keep. Allowing yourself small tastes of "bad" foods will probably have more long-term success than denying yourself entirely. To avoid the feeling of being hungry, consider switching to eating more frequent but smaller meals in the course of the day.

Exercise is also critical. It will help you burn calories, speed your metabolism and increase muscle mass and tone. When looking for appropriate exercise options, it's important to find an activity you enjoy doing. Remember that many sports, activities and exercise routines have versions that have been adapted for people living with disabilities. These include everything from basketball to fencing. If you're not inclined towards sports but still need a good workout routine, investigate adaptive yoga or Pilates or look into water-based exercise programs. Exercise in water is often easier for people with disabilities because it eliminates much of the strain of gravity, while still providing a workout due to the resistance of water.

It is always important to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise plan. Additionally, your doctor can help you figure out what your ideal weight should be. People with disabilities often have different weight goals that are determined by their physical form. Standard Body Mass Index, or BMI, and ideal weight calculators located online won't always be helpful to someone living with a disability. Finally, if you're looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight already achieved, enlist the help of those around you. Find a workout buddy, educate family members on your nutritional goals and make sure the people involved with your life are on board with your health-conscious program.

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